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NIA dispatches team to assist police in Kathua terror attack probe

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NEW DELHI/ KATHUA: The National Investigation Agency will assist the Jammu and Kashmir police in its probe into a terrorist attack on an Army convoy in Kathua that left five personnel martyred and as many injured, officials said on Tuesday.
A team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials has been sent to Kathua in Jammu region to extend all possible support to the police in its investigation, they said and made it clear that the probe agency has not registered a case to investigate the terrorist attack.
Five Army personnel, including a Junior Commissioned Officer, were martyred, and as many were injured when a group of heavily armed terrorists ambushed a patrolling party on the rugged Machedi-Kindli-Malhar mountainous road near the Badnota village in Lohai Malhar, approximately 150 km from the Kathua district’s headquarters.
It was the fifth terror attack in the Jammu region within a month.
Meanwhile, a massive search operation was underway on Tuesday to track down the terrorists behind the deadly attack on an Army patrol party in Kathua district, as Director General of Police R R Swain flew to the area to oversee the operation on the ground.
The bodies of the five soldiers martyred in the attack have been handed over to the Army after postmortem and were airlifted to their homes for last rites, officials said.
Accompanied by ADGP Anand Jain, DGP Swain conducted an aerial survey of the area and reviewed the ongoing operations, they said.
The scope of the search operation has been expanded to encompass large areas in the adjoining districts of Udhampur and Kathua, including Basantgarh, Seoj (a high-altitude area in Udhampur), and the upper reaches of Bani, Daggar, and Kindli in Kathua district.
Special forces of the Indian Army’s ‘Para’ unit have been deployed to conduct surgical operations against the terrorists in specific areas, the officials said.
Ground search teams are being supported by helicopter and UAV surveillance. Additionally, sniffer dogs and metal detectors are being utilized, with a particular focus on dense forest areas in the region.
The officials said that a joint cordon and search operation, involving the Army, police and CRPF, was launched in Machedi, Badnote, Kindli, and Lohai Malhar areas, with a significant area placed under cordon.
The bodies of the five soldiers were airlifted following postmortem examinations conducted at the Sub District Hospital in Billawar, Jammu and Kashmir.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Billawar, Vinay Khosla said that the bodies were handed over to the Army and subsequently airlifted.
He further said that out of eight injured soldiers brought to the Billawar hospital, six were shifted to the Pathankot Military Hospital by the Army.
The officials indicated that currently three to four groups of terrorists, mostly foreign terrorists, are active in the region, adding they have observed an increase in the presence of foreign terrorists in the Kathua-Udhampur-Doda belt and the Poonch-Rajouri-Reasi belt in recent times.
Five Army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer, were martyred, and an equal number were injured in the ambush by heavily armed terrorists in the remote Machedi area on Monday.
According to sources, three to four terrorists, mostly foreigners, are believed to have executed the ambush. They appear to be linked to the same group which was involved in Basangarh attack in which Village Defence Guard Mohd Sharief was martyred in an encounter with terrorists on April 28 in Panara village.
The attack mirrored a similar pattern to the Bhimbher Gali-Mendhar terror incident involving an Army truck on April 21, 2023, where five soldiers lost their lives. The terrorists initiated firing on the vehicle’s wheels, followed by bursts of gunfire targeting its front and left sides.
The sources said that the condition of the road and the slow speed of the truck in the area likely facilitated the attack.
Investigations into the weaponry and ammunition used in the attack are currently ongoing.
In June, security forces had observed movement of a group in the upper reaches of Bani, Daggar, and Kindli areas of Kathua district, leading to subsequent search operations.

LG pays homage to Army martyrs

SRINAGAR: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha paid homage to the bravehearts of Indian Army martyred in a dastardly terror attack in Kathua.
The Lt Governor has posted on X:
“I salute the bravery of our army personnel, who lost their lives in a dastardly terror attack in Kathua. Deepest condolences to bereaved families of martyrs. Coordinated counter-terror operations are underway and the perpetrators of this attack will be punished soon”.

Doda encounter ends; security cordon tightened

Jammu: Security forces tightened their cordon around a forest area in the higher reaches of Doda district Tuesday evening following an encounter with hiding terrorists, officials said.
Preliminary information revealed that at least two terrorists were hit by the retaliatory action and it is premature to say whether they are dead or injured, a police officer said.
The gunfight between the two sides began in the Ghadi Bhagwah forest, 35 km east of Doda town bordering Kishtwar district, this evening when police assisted by the Army launched a joint search and cordon operation after a tipoff about the presence of terrorists in the area, the officials said. Heavy firing continued for a couple of hours before the guns fell silent, the police officer said. He said the search operation was temporarily suspended for the night and will be resumed Wednesday morning to get a clear picture of the situation.
The encounter in Doda comes barely a day after five army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer, were killed and an equal number injured in an ambush by terrorists in Kathua district.
This was the fourth encounter in Doda district since June 12. While three foreign terrorists were killed in a day-long operation in the Gandoh area of the district on June 26, five army personnel and a special police officer were injured in a fierce gunfight in Chattargalla pass on June 12.
Another policeman was injured when terrorists opened fire on a search party in Gandoh the next day.

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